The Dog Doesn’t Die

Book reviews & random thoughts

Does the Dog Die? A Brief Review of The Red Scarf, by Kate Furnival

The whole time I was reading this book–which, for the record, I enjoyed immensely–I kept wondering what I would say about it in this review. Normally, I don’t do that. I just read a book, like it or don’t like it, and write about it afterwards.

But The Red Scarf required more than the usual suspension of belief on my part. Now, in my view of the world, all fiction requires the reader to first agree to suspend belief up to a point. The author gets away with one significant, underlying implausibility. After that, everything has to be fairly consistent within the world that the author creates. Even sci-fi and fantasy have their rules. Look at Terry Pratchett’s Disc World series, for example. He’s created a world with its own rules of physics, its own geography, etc., etc. And he stays within those rules.

The Red Scarf isn’t that far off from the real world as we know it, and it wasn’t internally inconsistent, but the implausibilities kept yanking me out of the story. Still, it was quite entertaining. The basis of the action is the friendship between Sofia and Anna, who are trapped in a Siberian labor camp in 1933. Both are slowly dying, but Anna’s health is particularly bad. Sofia then escapes too easily (or why wouldn’t she have done it sooner?), makes her way through the Siberian forest too easily, finds the village where Anna’s childhood crush resides too easily, gets taken in by the village too easily, and falls for the man she thinks is Anna’s beau while being manipulated (or not) by the local gypsy and continuing to worry about Anna. Everyone is more or less good, or trying to be good, or good with a dark side.

Yet while the events in this book seemed extremely impossible, Furnival is an entertaining and skilled storyteller. She was also kind to animals. One dog meets his demise in an act of bravery, but the animals–mostly horses–fared well, aside from the occasional horse being tired and skinny after a long journey. So this book is SAFE for animal lovers. Just don’t expect to find it entirely believable.

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August 31, 2008 - Posted by | animals, Book Reviews, pets | , , , , ,

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